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SS Cars

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Defunct

SS Cars Ltd was a British car maker. It grew out of the Swallow Sidecar Company and was first registered under the new name in 1934. In 1945 the company changed its name to Jaguar Cars Ltd.

The Swallow Sidecar Company had moved from its roots making stylish sidecars to become first a coachbuilder adding new bodies to other makers chassis and running gear and in 1932 launched a car of its own, the SS1. It had also moved in 1928 from Blackpool to Coventry, in the heart of the British motor industry.

Under the guidance of the chairman, William Lyons, the company survived the depression years by making a series of beautifully styled cars offering exceptional value for money although some enthusiasts criticised them at the time for being "more show than go". The engines and chassis were supplied by the Standard Motor Company with a large design input to the latter from SS with the bodywork being added in the Coventry works. The engines were modified to designs by William Heynes and Harry Weslake.

The first of the SS range of cars was the 1932 SS1 with 2 or 2½ Litre side valve, six cylinder engine. Initially available as coupé or tourer a saloon was added in 1934 when the chassis was modified to be 2 inches (50 mm) wider. The smaller engined SSII joined the range in 1932.

The first of the sports cars came in 1935 with the SS90, so called because of its 90 mph top speed, but after only 23 had been made it was replaced in 1936 by the Jaguar SS100, the first car to bear the new name. One of the finest looking cars of all time, only 198 of the 2½ Litre and 116 of the 3½ Litre models were made and with a 100 mph top speed and 0-60 mph time of 11 seconds the survivors are highly sought after, rarely coming on the market.

The mainstream production would always be the saloons and in 1936 the 1½ Litre was launched with 4 cylinder side valve engine, replaced by an overhead valve model in 1938. Alongside this was the 2½ Litre saloon with 6 cylinder engine and overhead valve from the start. It was upgraded in 1938 including a new chassis and optional 3½ Litre engine.

Car production stopped in 1940 and would restart in 1945 under the new name but initially making the pre-war 1½, 2½ and 3½ litre saloons. These post war cars have become known unofficially as the Mark IV Jaguars. The sidecar making business along with the Swallow trademark was sold, the new company making the Swallow Doretti sports car.

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